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My Last Day Working From Home
First, a quick update on the VoIP issue in case anyone is curious. It turns out it's not quite as good as I made it out. The $99/month deal is only for new users, doesn't include a digital cable box (which we have), and comes with a required $200 installation fee. However, our total additional cost for adding Digital Voice is only $27/month, which is still a heck of a lot better than $80/month, so we're going for it. I will report later how well it works.

In other news, starting tomorrow I will officially be moving into the office in Concord. Our new office in Waltham won't be ready for at least another month, so our GM has decided to get as many of us to work out of the Concord office as he can to start engendering a better office culture asap. Personally, I'm pleased, as it will allow me to ease myself back into working from an office. The Concord office is only a 5 minute drive from here, while Waltham is more like 20-30 minutes away. Plus, I miss the social aspect of working in an office.

I should've started today actually, but my stinking post-nasal drip and sore throat haven't gone away for about a week now. I decided it was time to go see the doctor. I fully expect him to say 'Sinusitis! Here are some antibiotics,' but I suppose it wouldn't hurt to go in just in case. So it's off to the doc's this afternoon.
July 27th, 2005 - 10:30 am | Comments (3) | PERMALINK

PK and the Yogurt
OK, you can tell I'm starting to scratch the bottom of the barrel here for photos to share. I've still avoided posting any Christmas shots, so at least there's that.

This series of pictures are sadly rather dark (the damn flash on my camera takes too long to recharge!) but still rather cute. We were at Roly's Grammy's house, and Roly was out on the back porch eating some yogurt. PK decided he wanted some, but the concept of glass windows was still a little beyond him.


EDIT: It's been pointed out that in fact it was pudding, not yogurt. One must strive for accuracy.
July 27th, 2005 - 02:02 pm | Comments (3) | PERMALINK

Texture in Gaming
Order of the StickIf you're into RPGs and you don't read Rich Burlew's Order of the Stick, you're missing out. Go read it. And don't just read the comics, read his gaming articles. They're worth it.

I want to respond here specifically to his thoughts on 'Texture'. Here's Rich's definition of the term:

I'm talking about all of the little details that add up to create a complete description. Texture is the color of a sword's hilt, the sound of distant thunder, or the smell of baked pies as one passes through a village. It's knowing the reason why the villain is so villainous, and hinting at secrets that are never revealed. Everything that makes the world feel like a place where people live, rather than just an exercise in problem-solving.

Now, I'm all for adding this level of detail into descriptions. I certainly agree that extra descriptive depth helps add to the vivaciousness to the game world. However, I think composing such stuff beforehand can often have the reverse effect. I can just see the glaze come over the players eyes as they think 'Oh, he's reading the box text now. Tell me when it's over.' It's like the three page description of a coat in Little Dorrit. English professors love to roll out how impressive it is that Dickens was able to put such depth into something so trivial. True, but I think actually reading that entire description is equally praise-worthy.

Of course, I also think trying to improvise descriptions will come out even worse. It will retain all the bore-factor without even sounding well written. What's a GM to do? Is there any way to have lush description without boring the players to tears? I can think of one option: don't deliver until it's requested. Start with the bare bones:

'You enter the wizard's study. There are some bookcases, a desk, and a chair.'

Don't roll out any details until requested:

Player: 'I go check out the bookcases.'

DM : ' A musty smell fills the air, and swirls of dust follow you as you move across the room to inspect the bookcases. The oak bookcases sit on opposite sides of the room, each filled with leather-bound tomes of assorted shades of brown. On the left bookcase, one shelf has broken, spilling its contents over the shelf below and the floor.'

That's really all I'm coming up with. Anyone have any other ideas? Or other methods besides extra descriptive text to add Texture to you game?
July 27th, 2005 - 04:18 pm | Comments (4) | PERMALINK

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